Scam targeting churches hits Eastside

BELLEVUE, Wash. — The pastor at a Bellevue church is warning the community to be alert after a scam cost some of her parishioners hundreds of dollars.

Bellevue police say the thieves obtained an email address very similar to the one belonging to Pastor Vonna Thomas at Newport Presbyterian Church. The person who sent the email told parishioners one of their members had cancer and it would be helpful to give that person iTunes gift cards.

When one church member sent hundreds of dollars in ITunes gift cards to the scammer they got another email asking for more.

Thomas has heard of at least four Presbyterian churches in Seattle and the Eastside being targeted.

"So I sign off with blessings, exclamation points and that's what the scammer was using. And that to me was creepy and disgusting," Thomas said. "These truly are professionals who are preying on people, no pun intended. They're trying to reach out and get easy money."

Bellevue police detectives are still working to track who sent the emails and want to hear from other victims.

According to Bellevue police the scam is making its way across the country.  It is so prolific the Federal Trade Commission issued a warning.

More news from KIRO 7